To guarantee that your vehicles are safe to drive, it's important to perform a thorough pre-trip inspection (PTI) before hitting the road. Pre-trip inspections become even more important during the winter months because snow and ice on the roads and the vehicle lead to dangerous driving conditions. In British Columbia, the average number of crashes involving death or injury due to driving in these conditions more than doubles between the fall and the beginning of the winter. Nearly 28% of all crashes at work resulting in injury and time loss occur during the three Winter months (November–January), making them the most dangerous time of year for people who drive for work.
Pre-trip inspections are probably the most disliked and most often overlooked part of the job of the professional truck driver in the trucking industry. However, pre-trip inspections not only help reduce the risks of road-related death or injury, but they also help prevent costly repairs. And depending on where you live, PTIs may even be required by law. This inspection is meant to be a thorough check of the truck, trailer, and load. And that’s why the Ontario Safety League recommends that a pre-trip inspection should take 25 to 30 minutes.
Here are tips on how to perform thorough pre-trip inspections during the Winter months:
- Inspect the main external components of the vehicle, including:
- Lights and reflectors
- Trailer couplings
- Load tie-downs
- Inspect that tires and chains are in good condition
- Make sure ice and snow are removed from your vehicle, including the hood, roof, lights, windows, and steps.
- Make sure the mirrors can be adjusted and are in good condition, with no cracks.
- Do more than just check that the wipers can be turned on and off. Remember that wiper fluid should always be filled. And if the windshield wiper fluid has been diluted, it could potentially freeze under extremely cold temperatures.
- Ensure that the coolant level and antifreeze are full. Remember that extreme temperatures can affect your vehicle's ability to regulate its engine.
- Inspect the inside of the vehicle, including:
- Driver’s seat
- Heater/air conditioning
- Safety equipment
- Whenever possible, observe general cleanliness in the cab. An uncluttered interior is less distracting and far safer for driving under all conditions.
- Inspect the vehicle controls, including:
- Steering wheel
- Parking brakes
- Driver controls
- Turn signals
- Ensure heating and defrost equipment is working
Drivers should plan for extra time to reach their destination and shouldn’t be in a rush. Often, bad weather and road conditions will cause delays. Since they are inevitable, drivers should factor them into their schedules.
Keep track of your pre-trip inspections for compliance and as best practice for safety.